/ Technology

Would you buy a drone?

flying a drone

Drones are arguably one of the coolest, funkiest, trendiest (whatever the cool kids say) tech gadgets you can own in 2017, but do you trust them enough to buy one?

I’ve been spending a fair bit of time flying drones lately and, I have to admit, there’s a lot of fun to be had – from lifting the drone into the air and moving it around, to taking some sweeping shots of the great British countryside.

However, they’re also prone to bad press. Reports of near-misses with airplanes are enough to make you shudder. Plus, some people have understandable concerns about their privacy when they see a drone in the air – especially considering many are fitted with cameras.

But I don’t think this needs to be a reason not to buy one, or to not get excited about the technology. If drone pilots use their drones safely and responsibly I don’t think they can really cause any harm.

Drone code

To help people do this, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has published a drone code, with the key principles for safe flight.

These include some things that I think should be obvious, such as staying away from airports and airfields, and following the manufacturer instructions. But it also has some more specific details to help you stay within the confines of the law – such as keeping 50 metres away from people and property.

We explore these regulations – as well as considerations around privacy, what to do if you see someone using a drone incorrectly, and more in our guide on how to fly a drone safely.

Flying responsibly

The government has recently announced its plans to bring in drone registration, and a safety-awareness test for everyone who wants to fly one.

The hope is that these measures will encourage responsible flight, and improve accountability when someone uses their drone incorrectly.

The government is also looking into how best to embed electronic identification and tracking within the registration scheme so that drones can be identified when they’re in the air. This will also verify the pilots on the ground.

Safety features

Drones do have some pretty cool safety features that can help them (and you) stay out of trouble. There’s something called ‘return to home’ that means the drone will immediately find its way back to you if it gets lost, loses signal with a controller, or runs out of battery.

Some drones also have geofencing technology. This GPS-based technology is built into drones, and is designed to stop them from flying in prohibited zones.

Some drones are really easy to control and fly, which gave me confidence when I piloted them. Some, on the other hand, made me feel nothing short of nervous. If you want to know which drones aced our flight tests, take good photos and have decent battery life, check out our Best Buy drones.

Would you ever consider buying a drone? Do you think the current and proposed regulations go far enough, or would you prefer stricter rules?


Predictably not. Wrong age group, better things to do with the time available and no actual use for such a gadget. There’s a good chance that a bad landing will wreck a several hundred pound “toy” as would a tree or a power line (god forbid). Who can guarantee that the drone will not get within fifty metres of someone? The neighbour’s hot tub is not a place to film if you want to remain on good terms. Buzzing drones could be a noise nuisance too. Those who need to see things from the air to assess conditions will find a drone a very useful tool, for the rest of us, it’s a leisure thing. What ever turns you on…..


Perhaps Which? could also review Personal Surface to Drone Missiles so we can bring down an offending intruder?
Personally, I see little wrong in principle with drones; an extension to other radio controlled devices – planes and helicopters. Big boys toys for some, but with serious uses for others.

Once the novelty has worn off, what do you then do with a drone – unless you are a professional photographer perhaps.

I will have a gripe here ( 🙁 ) I would like to have seen Which? do a test report on the unsafe Indesit tumble driers to help decide what the safety problem was, whether it was present when the product would have been tested for safety to the international standard, or whether it was due to a change in design since it was approved. They could have given one to BSI to do independent tests. Perhaps a better use of money and resources that would benefit more people than drones? 🙂


I’m just waiting for the first terrorist incident involving a drone and a plane….
All very well to have regulations banning them near airports and over densely populated areas, but without foolproof transponders (that cannot be removed without destroying the drone) fitted to every drone, I believe that serious incidents will happen sooner or later, probably without identifying the perpetrators.
There have already been several reports of them being used to deliver mobile phones and drugs to prisons, proving (in my view) that enforcement of the regulations is nigh impossible.


Regulations, codes, safe use guidelines. As ever the people who would adhere to these are not the users we would need to be concerned about. I can see the value of drones to certain authorities and services but worry that so called leisure users are a risk to the rest of us. Already heard of children been hurt by unsafe adult users and children flying ‘toy’ drones!

michael says:
29 July 2017

We have already seen what a full size drone can do in a war zone. Do we need to witness a CATASTROPHIC event in this country before we completely put them back in the hands of military only. As they get bigger and more sophisticated, it’s only a matter of time. I just cannot see common sense prevailing.

Alan Mowat says:
29 July 2017

Drones MUST be better controlled. A license should be required before purchasing. Stricter laws/ rules about their build and use are needed and with corresponding tough fines/punishments. Users should face a test of some sort. The CAA and other authorities must get off their ….. and get proper legislation in place before a serious accident with fatalities occurs.


I think that each drone should be fitted with a microchip and at the point of sale they should have to give their name and address so that if they cause any problems it is easy to track them down and hold them to account.


A useful tool if you have a use for it, but for enthusiasts, a drone is less benefit than a metal detector and has the added risk of damage and loss.

In the meantime, the NIMBYs and control freaks will have a ball indignantly demanding ‘big daddy’ protection.

More eye-opening Christmas or birthday present than the 48 piece briefcase tool kit for adult boys but will get even less use. A fad that will die before demand grows to reduce purchase cost and all those collecting dust in attics will end up on Ebay.

So if you have a use for one, hold your horses. You might get a real bargain on Ebay.


Control freaks/NIMBY,s yes you could call the South Yorkshire Police crime (sex perverts ) Squad helicopter surveillance of couples having sex in the privacy of their enclosed rural garden as well as a nudist colony –just practicing their “techniques ” Martin ?? .Like another regular here I would find a means of shooting it down — any old Exocet,s for sale on Fleabay ?? They were caught enjoying their private viewings at our financial expense and members of the British Public’s severe embarrassment . I would also hit any pervert hovering over my garden with a sudden Writ.


No one has been convicted yet. The case was transferred to the Crown Court and is still in progress.


CPS- not in the “public interest” John ?


As I said above, the prosecution is continuing. The case was forecast to take three weeks. Until there are convictions the persons charged are presumed to be innocent. That does not necessarily mean that they are innocent but our law gives them a presumption of innocence in order to enable a fair trial to take place. I would imagine the CPS are trying hard to get guilty verdicts.


I see that Maplin are advertising pre-owned drones, so maybe Martin is right about them being a fad. The fact that drones have serious uses will mean that there is likely to be a long-term demand for recreational use.